Cakes and Money
Sunday, March 30, 2003
Gigantic (part 1)
So much for moving on to the warm, mushy stuff�
I watched Paul Thomas Anderson�s Magnolia for the first time last night. Good lord, that was an exhausting experience. I can totally understand why some people don�t like the movie� it�s a sprawling, ungainly thing. Self-indulgent and self-important in equal amounts.
But for all that, I really liked it. It�s a bag full of tricks, basically. There�s a helluva lot of different stuff going on, some of it random, some of it angsty, all of it stylish and most of it interesting. Perhaps there�s too much going on, I dunno, but it did click with me on a lot of levels. I need to see it again before I can say whether or not I think there�s much to it, but it was certainly an interesting and engaging experience, even if it did leave me feeling drained at the end.
I think there might be something to it� something about fiction, life and fate. How the random flux of life can have some shape and purpose. Everyone in the story seems to be caught between performances, so to speak. Searching for new roles, or at least, resolution to their old ones.
Of course, it could all just be a stylish, ambitious mess. Not all of the characters and plot threads are given enough time; such is the rate at which this movie jumps from situation to situation, and I guess this is the movies biggest problem. Still, there�s an odd banquet of strange stories on offer, and I liked that. It was certainly hard to get bored with any of the characters and situations, despite the film�s gargantuan length.
While the direction and soundtrack of Magnolia are excellent, it was the brilliant performances of the cast members that really carried the movie for me. Julianne Moore, Philip Seymour Hoffman and William H. Macy were all particularly affecting, and Tom Cruise was actually pretty good as insecure misogynist motivational speaker/writer Frank.
Definitely one I need to see again sometime when I�m in the right mood.
Gigantic (part 2)
I�ve been reading Steve Aylett�s Toxicology today, which has been a lot of fun. It�s a collection of very short stories, some of which are more realised than others, and many of which are very entertaining.
At his worst, Aylett is kinda like Terry Pratchet for people who think they�re too cool to read Terry Pratchet, but at his best he�s much funnier, sharper and more imaginative than that.
He�s got a distinctively disorientating prose style, and a cutting sense of humour, and I�m looking forward to getting stuck into Shamanspace latter this week, as while there�s a lot of fun stuff in this collection, I�m kinda in the mood for something more substantial at the moment.
I�m about to ramble on even more aimlessly than usual, so I�d like to apologise in advance for that.
Some kids seem to have pulled the sign for the bus stop beside my house out of the ground and have left it sticking out of a nearby hedge. I can only imagine them trying to flag down a couple of night busses with it before realising that the comedy wasn�t worth the effort. From the look of the hole in the ground that pole was pretty deeply embedded in the ground, and I reckon it must have taken some effort to yank that thing out of its position in the first place.
While I was waiting for my bus to work this morning I found myself wondering exactly why anyone would be bothered to do this, no matter how drunk or bored they were. Then I remembered that back while I was still in high school, a couple of friends of mine stole a lamppost one night. I can�t remember exactly why they did it (something to do with a bet, I think), but I can remember being utterly bamboozled by this random bout of madness.
People really do find the strangest ways to pass the time, don�t they?
Come to bonny Scotland: we steal lampposts.
Saturday, March 29, 2003
Natural Yoghurt Eaters
A brief expansion on the post below:
Having looked over what I�ve just read, it seems to me that what I �m trying to say about all of Chris Morris� work is that it brings out stuff that is already there. That�s why Brass Eye feels so scathing and Blue Jam can be unsettling. It�s why all of his work is so funny and strange. His sharp comedy instincts latch on to the un-easy stuff that is thinly veiled by the surface. It is both the comedy of the uncomfortable and the comedy of the ridiculous.
Or at least, that�s what I think it is�
�Another Mr Lizard�
I�ve been listening to Chris Morris� Blue Jam radio work a lot recently. It�s great, weird, moody stuff that showcases Morris� twisted imagination and gift for gloriously jarring phraseology at its finest. The unifying factor behind all of Morris� work seems to me to be his ability to make the utterly preposterous seem strangely convincing. It�s why all of his early radio stuff is so dead-on and amusing, and it�s why the barbed humour of Brass Eye cuts so effectively into the empty heart of our society�s media-fed hysteria.
Blue Jam isn�t built on parody like much of Morris� previous output, but there is something not far removed from parody at the heart of these sketches. These whimsically deranged slices of fiction create a sort of distorted exaggeration of reality, mixing the sensational and the mundane together in an uncomfortably compelling style. The musical backdrop to this is key, with the ambient soundtrack adding atmosphere to the brilliant language, which alternated between the ridiculous and the evocative with ease.
It�s good stuff to listen to if you�re in an odd mood with the world. Real late night listening. Sometimes it�s silly and sometimes it�s just plain wrong. It doesn't 'say' anything, but it makes for very effective, caustic experience. Definitely a perfect soundtrack to certain moods.
I think I�m gonna start reading/watching/listening to something a bit warmer soon, cos I�ve been knee-deep in Blue Jam, Mclusky, the Pixies, and the Jesus and Mary Chain today, and as fun as this has been, methinks It�s about time to take a break from the noisy/dark stuff, if only for a couple of days.
Body Clock Reset Alert
The clocks go forward tonight, which is always an odd experience. I remember being very confused about this process when I was very young. How could everyone just move time around like that? Surely things didn�t work that way?
Welcome to the real world, kid.
I�ve just been struck by a very strange, but overwhelming, need to write a post about food. Dunno why, but I have.
Maybe it�s because I just finished a bowl of Strawberries. Mmmmmm� Strawberries!
Good eating. Served as a fine desert to my greasy, but satisfying, dinner (special fried rice, in case you were wondering).
Lucozade seems to have replaced Irn Bru as my toothrot of choice. I�ve not been able to stop drinking Lucozade since that prolonged bout of illness I experienced lat year. It tastes oddly metallic, but not un-agreeably so, and this is probably a good thing, as I�m unable to guzzle it in large quantities (unlike Irn Bru, which has been rapidly melting my teeth and innards for quite some time now). Makes me slightly hyper, but then what else is new.
I�m feeling a bit moody and anti-social tonight. Perhaps I should have gone out after all. Hmmm. Hard to judge: would I have just been a pain in the ass if I went out? Quite possibly. Probably best to chill out after all.
Maybe I should watch a movie or something�
Friday, March 28, 2003
Y�know how I said I�d maybe write something about Marvel�s epic line if my brain kicked into gear?
Well, that idea seems a bit redundant in the face of this rather brutal (but fair) Journalista news-piece which nails everything about the new Epic set up quite concisley, I think.
I didn�t �get� George Herriman�s Krazy Kat strips immediately. That�s not to say I didn�t like them, because I did, but it took me a while to really get into them.
I picked up the first of the recent Fantagraphics reprint editions one day when I had some loose cash and was in the mood for something a bit different, and I enjoyed the whimsical wit of the strips enough to want to read more of them. Somehow, however, I didn�t rate it as highly as I felt I should. In all honesty, I reckon this derives from the sense of importance that comes with the strip (it�s often referred to as the best comic strip ever, something which I really wouldn�t feel well placed to judge*). I think it was something that I was initially too self-conscious about to really enjoy for what it is.
On further immersion something clicked with me. The vivid, perma-morphing backgrounds that Herriman creates out of a few well placed doodles, the variety of different accents in the dialogue, the easy wit of the jokes and wordplay, the infinite interpretability and inherent vibrancy of the strip�s central love triangle�I�m hooked!
It may sound stupid, but the relationship between Krazy Kat, Ignatz Mouse and Officer Pupp is genuinely fascinating to see played out over its infinite repetitions here.
Ignatz hates Krazy and so decides to throw a brick at him/her. Krazy takes this as a sign of affection. Officer Pupp, who hates Ignatz, drags the mouse of to jail for his crimes. It�s simple stuff, but affectingly so, and Krazy�s unrelenting sweetness in the face of it all is genuinely touching.
*my familiarity with comic strips in general is shockingly poor. I�m working on it�honest guv!
I�ve been reading Dork, D.R. and Quinch, Ronin, ACME Novelty Library and a lot of other stuff recently, and hopefully I�ll be writing sommink about some of these comics soon, as I think a touch more variety in my comic-blogging wouldn't go amiss at the moment.
(Sometimes) I Have to Concentrate
This is the theme from m*a*s*h*.
This is a call.
Realisation that your appreciation.
Meant nothing at all.
This is eternal.
This is your life.
Vodka and tonics with the Stereophonics on a Saturday night.
This is illegal.
At least if you do it right.
A new operation for your eloquent spaceships.
But that was revolting.
And this is well done.
Congratulations you're the king of the kop.
And I'm a teacher's son.
This is the final time.
I teach you to shave.
Was never supposed to be a stain on your church.
Or a big day.
Go gadget armpits.
And cover me down.
My final suggestion in the form of a question.
Are we made of stone?
A link for my good friend Graeme: AMBER BENSON- FROM BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER TO ALBION
Thursday, March 27, 2003
With my Richard Thompson marathon temporarily put on hold due to the fact that I�m not currently in the mood for that kind of thing, I�ve been listening to Jay-Z�s the Blueprint a lot recently, and I can�t believe that I�d forgotten quite how brilliant an album it is.
Quite a few different producers worked on this album, but you�d never guess it from the unified sound and feel of the album. Aside from the Eminem collaboration �Renegade� (which sounds like pretty much every other Eminem song ever), the Blueprint is magnificently cohesive from start to finish.
A lot of these tunes make for great summer/party listening. I�m thinking of �Girls, Girls, Girls�, �Hola� Hovito� and �Izzo (H.O.V.A.) in particular, but the really whole album begs for that kind of setting. There�s a big, warm and oddly organic sound to the album that gives it a kind of retro-modern feel that is deeply appealing, especially when it�s paired up with such a quality selection of commercial hip-hop tunes.
The key to it all, of course, is Jay-Z himself. Armed with a handful of different aliases and more great rhymes than you can shake a particularly verbose stick at, Jay-Z plays the player with style and charisma while knocking out brilliantly mad one-liners like �You little fuck, I've got money stacks bigger than you�. Whether he�s putting down his detractors or bigging himself up, he always sounds ridiculously confident and charming, and that�s what makes this album work.
I have to admit that my favourite track on the album is probably that odd remix of �Girls, Girls, Girls� that pops up at the end of the disk- it�s just brilliantly insane, but I can�t really think of a way to describe it.
Given that the weather�s been pretty gorgeous around here for the last couple of days, I think that I need to cook up a nice summer mix tape sharpish, before the weather reverts to its natural state (which should happen either in a couple of days, or just before summer is actually supposed to start).
I know it may seem a bit sad for me to be blathering on about a wee bit of sunshine like this, but believe me, you don�t know the half of it. I have this curious obsession with sunshine that I can�t quite explain. It genuinely does give me a slight childlike thrill when the weathers good. Amusingly, I can�t actually handle countries with a constantly high temperature- I get knackered very quickly in the sun. Who woulda thunk it?
What the Hell is a Latent Face?
So� Mark Millar�s Trouble then. What�s that all about?
Well, according to this brief interview here, it�s a romance comic. To be entirely honest with you, this was not what I expected when I saw that rather bizarre cover with Millar�s name above it.
From the Newsarama interview:
"This isn't a Mature Readers book. It's aimed at precisely the same age-group superhero books are primarily aimed at, but who happen to constitute the other 53% of the human population. I wouldn't be as crass as to say this is a chick-book because there are a higher percentage of women reading comics than we've seen in two generations - especially the Ultimate line.
However, this is an attempt to move beyond the fairly limiting parameters of superhero fiction and do another book set within the Marvel Universe that would appeal to another market entirely�.
I�m not sure quite what to expect here. This could be a good thing, as it�ll perhaps give Millar a chance to stretch his creative legs a bit. I�ve been interested in seeing him write something that wasn�t a superhero book for a while now, just to see how well he applies himself to something outside the genre. On the other hand, I normally find Millar�s work to be pretty uneven. For every Ultimates or Authority story arc I enjoy, there�s Ultimate X-Men (which is mostly just pretty boring), or some of his later Authority work, which essentially consisted of some painfully average superhero stories dressed up in �outrageous� clothing, to put me off him a bit.
Still, I�ve been re-reading some of his earlier work on Swamp Thing recently, and it hints at a range beyond enjoyably OTT superhero stories, so here�s hoping that he pulls this off.
I�ve never seen any work from the Dodsons so I can�t imagine what the interiors of the book are going to look like, but the cover, whether it�s supposed to compete with romance novels or not, is a bit shit, isn�t it?
If I can get my brain to work, I may write something about the whole Epic line some time soon, as the entire purpose of the line seems kinda odd to me.
Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Hungry Hungry Hippos
So: The Life of David Gale then. I�ll be *SPOILING* its �big twist� in a moment.
I have to say that I�ve been left with very little to say after watching this movie, which is kind of amusing as I get the impression that the filmmakers thought they were making a touching and thought-provoking drama that would really poke around in your brain while tugging your heartstrings.
Spacey puts in a decent performance, but overall it�s just such an oddly crass little movie that I have a hard time saying anything about it without just ranting. I guess my main problem with the Life of David Gale is that I found the handling of the movie's big central issue to be much less sensitive and intelligent than it aspires to be (and in fact needs to be, given the subject matter).
The idea that a group of anti-death penalty protestors (including Gale himself) have set it up so that Gale will die in order to prove a flaw in the justice system is not only convoluted but also deeply stupid on every level. Roger Ebert wrote a suitably disgusted review here, and I find myself wholeheartedly agreeing with him.
The following excerpt sums everything up quite nicely, I think:
��let it be said this movie is about as corrupt, intellectually bankrupt and morally dishonest as it could possibly be without David Gale actually hiring himself out as a joker at the court of Saddam Hussein.
I am sure the filmmakers believe their film is against the death penalty. I believe it supports it and hopes to discredit the opponents of the penalty as unprincipled fraudsters. What I do not understand is the final revelation on the videotape. Surely David Gale knows that Bitsey Bloom cannot keep it private without violating the ethics of journalism and sacrificing the biggest story of her career. So it serves no functional purpose except to give a cheap thrill to the audience slackjaws. It is shameful.�
A Song is a Beautiful Lie
I�ve been meaning to praise the marvellously named Queer Granny website for a while now.
It�s a website that exists primarily as a �a collective space for t-shirt designs that are mostly inspired by the Barbelith Underground�, and there�s quite a few interesting things up there right now, including several fun t-shirt designs and Danger! Mages in Training, a series of one panel joke cartoons about, erm, a group of mages in training! It�s very cute and funny, and is probably my favourite part of the site so far (though there�s some tough competition forming already).
Go have fun exploring the website, and enjoy the bizarrely fascinating story behind the name of the site! I�ll be sticking a link to it on the sidebar later this week, when I�ll be doing a little maintenance work.
While I�m bigging people up, I think now�s as good a time as any to remind anyone who hasn�t already checked it out to have a look at Genre City, which is getting closer and closer to the end of it�s prologue.
I�ll probably post something a bit more thoughtful about Genre City after the prologue is completed, but at the moment I�ll stick to plainly and simply stating that Benjamin, Genre City�s creator, has cooked up a very interesting little world for himself with this comic, and that I can�t wait to see what he does next with this odd little group of characters.
Plus the latest page features the exclamation �Aw Fuckbeans!�, which is a classic if you ask me!
Over on this Barbelith thread, someone came up with the brilliant idea that the upcoming �Murder at the Mansion� story arc in New X-Men could be about people investigating some of Xorn�s more recent activities.
Y�know how he blew the hell out of (and possibly killed) several U-Men in the woods in issue #136? Well wouldn�t it be great if these are the �murders� that are going to be investigated over the next couple of months? I think so.
I�m trying not to get too attached to this theory in case the story doesn�t play out this way, but it�s a damned good idea, and I can�t help but hope that this is the way things go.
I�m very interested in seeing how these events affect the ideology of Morrison�s X-Men even further, as there�s already quite a bit building up around the idea of �the enemy within� and I think it�s an interesting angle for Morrison to be exploring the X-Men from.
On one level, Morrison�s run has always been about change and accepting new ideas, and I think there�s been a lot of positive stuff derived from this idea (the pacifist agenda, the global outreach program), but there�s definitely something to the idea that mutants are self-destructing in some ways. I don�t know why, but it kind of sits nicely with me when the Chris Claremont�s first run is considered- for all the talk of evolution that went on in those pages, it was largely and primarily superhero soap opera. There�s a line in Morrison�s Animal Man run which comes to mind� I don�t have the issue on hand at the moment (it�s on loan to a friend), but it�s something along the lines of �how come if we�re the next step in human evolution, all we do is beat each other up every time we meet?� While I know that this was primarily a comment on the nature of superhero comics, it does also ring true when you consider the way in which core concept of the X-Men has been handled.
There�s been a lot of eerie foreshadowing throughout this run, hasn�t there? �Are these words from the future?� and all that. Feels like we�re building up to something big and nasty. Of course, this being a Grant Morrison comic I�m sure it�ll all turn out all right in the end- he�s normally big on synthesis and transcendence so on, and I�m sure there�ll be a positive bent to his finale (though personally, I�m hoping he stays on for a while after issue #152, as in some ways I think he�s just starting to get warmed up at the moment).
There�s a good review of the most recent issue of New X-Men over on the X-Axis at the moment that touches on the brilliance of Morrison�s characterisation of Emma Frost quite nicely, I think.
�Emma's own reaction is all between the lines. She starts off trying to give Sophie a dignified send-off, and while she's clearly shattered by the Cuckoos' rejection, it only takes her a few panels to resume her usual facade. Morrison reminds us that Emma managed to get the Hellions killed as well, without being too blatant about it, and promptly puts Emma into another mentor relationship with Angel. It raises an interesting question about Emma's character which has never really been explored all that thoroughly - just why is she so keen on teaching? What motivates her to keep trying to shape children in her image? Morrison is at his best here, with plenty of material hinting at the reasons without ever quite making it clear.�
�He whipped out the Scottish Connection?�
As some of you may be aware, my friend Scott has somehow talked his way into doing a Scottish Lit dissertation on comic books. Specifically: Grant Morrison�s comic books. A big cheer for Scott is deserved here, I think. Having chosen such a blatantly pop-culture centric dissertation topic, I think it would be fair to say that Scott was a little bit nervous about how his dissertation supervisor would react to such a topic. Members of the various literature departments can be kind of unpredictable when it comes to this kind of thing. Some of them are really happy for you to tackle pop-culture stuff, whereas others seem to be trying to sneer it out of existence.
Anyway� last week, he went for his first meeting with said supervisor, and not only did the guy seem up for Scott�s dissertation idea, but he also loaned him a wee pile of comics, including Batman: the Scottish Connection, which was drawn by none other than Frank Quitely!
While we�re talking about Scott, I�d just like to mention that he now updates Wake Up Screaming twice a week, and that he has been putting up quite a bit of quality stuff recently.
I�m particularly fond of the panel arrangement of this strip and this one is rather good, in a quiet, conversational way.
A couple of his updates have been delayed due to server problems etc, but on the whole, it�s good to see him putting strips up more regularly.
Keep it up mate!
Friday, March 21, 2003
Sage words from Plasticbag:
��anyone who is 100% sure of the morality of their position with regard to the war in Iraq probably hasn't understood the issues involved. Be prepared to have your mind changed. Remain open to new ideas. Protest / Advocate only what you really believe to be true��
It�s the Sun�
There may be *Spoilers* ahead...
New X-Men #138 was both every bit as brilliant as I�d hoped it would be and totally unexpected at the same time.
Technically speaking, this is the conclusion to the �Riot at Xavier�s� story (it even says so on the cover- isn�t that nice!), but in reality this title has become so episodic that for every plot point that reaches it�s conclusion here, a couple more are introduced. And at the moment, the plot is getting very, very interesting.
There�s an odd mix of typically Morrison-esque transcendent super-heroics and straight up soap-opera going on in this title, and it�s a mix that I think has really came together recently. On the cosmic side of things, I�m definitely getting the feeling that between Xorn, Jean and the newly disembodied Quentin, there�s gonna be some very big, weird stuff going on soon. On a more grounded level, the scene involving Emma�s Cuckoos turning their backs on her was oddly touching (especially when she changes into her diamond form in order to avoid feeling the situation), while the Emma/Scott/Jean love triangle just hit fever pitch.
Plus Angel and Beak are brilliant. They�re just great teenage characters, plain and simple.
Coming soon to a TV near you: Dawson�s Beak�I�d watch it!
(Did I steal this gag from somewhere? It feels like I did, but I have no idea where from)
The Professor stepping down as headmaster of the school came as a shock to me, but in a good way. It promises interesting things in upcoming story arcs.
Frank Quitely�s art was simply marvellous, as usual. He handles the character-based scenes with real panache, and even managed to make a car chase look exciting in this issue!
Top stuff, all round. I really hope that the consistency of this title stays as good as it has been for the last couple of months, cos I�m loving it at the moment.
And it Makes me Shine!
I am so unbelievably tired today.
Had a grand time last night playing basketball with my friends Graeme, Chris and Scott. Ten O�clock at night is definatley the time for basketball, I tell ya. There�s no beating it. Wel� that time we had a game at two in the morning was pretty grand too, but that�s another story (or another ball game, depending on which clich� you want to go with).
So� there�s a war on now. After that slow and terribly inevitable build up, the fighting has started, and I can�t help but feel scared, depressed and angry about the whole thing. If I here the words �Shock and Awe� one more time today, I�m gonna scream.
I�m kinda embarrassed to say that I can�t really form any cohesive thoughts about this situation. There�s a lot to be said, but I find myself lacking in articulation at the moment. I just can�t manage to write something that manages to express my anger towards the powers behind this war without loosing sight of the fact that, hey, people are getting killed out there (which doesn�t make me angry, but rather makes me deeply sad).
There�s more Get Your War On online now. As always, it�s funny, smart and angry and that�s exactly the combination I need right now.
Thursday, March 20, 2003
Back Once Again
And we�re back.
Sorry for the week off I just took, but things were a bit hectic in my life and for various reasons it was probably best for me to keep away from my blog for a while.
And now the bad news: Gillian and I have just broken up. I�m not sure if I�m gonna type much about this, as I think that it would (A) be a bit undignified to play this one out in public and (B) be of absolutely no interest to most of the people who check this place out.
Suffice it to say that there are no hard feelings between us, but that I�m obviously going through a lot of big, weird, emotional stuff at the moment. I think it would be fair to say that this will probably be reflected in the tone of this blog for the time being, so I guess it�s only fair to give you warning (get out while you can!)
Erm.. anyway� I think that�s more than enough on this topic� moving on�
The Winged Eyeballs of the Apocalypse!
I saw Confessions of a Dangerous Mind recently, and was very impressed.
Tonally, it�s a very odd film that plays it straight while also remaining strangely ironic throughout.
An adaptation of game show host Chuck Barris� autobiography, in which he claims that he was also a CIA agent who is responsible for the deaths of many men, Confessions� is stylishly directed by George Clooney, and features an amazing turn by Sam Rockwell as Barris himself. It�s funny, very funny, but there�s a really strange, dark heart to the film that sits oddly, but convincingly, with the more OTT elements of the movie.
The highly� fictional (there�s no other word for it) nature of the scenes that focus on the secret agent stuff is clearly intended to mark these sections out as flights of fancy, but the deeper implications of this particular fantasy disturbs me deeply. The question it raises for me is why anyone, no mater how little they felt they had contributed to the world, would feel the need to invent such a deeply unpleasant secret history? To me, this seems to be a fantasy that reeks of the need for people to have a good reason to be weary of him� to judge him. Something to deflect from what he feels to be his failings in life. I dunno� it�s just creepy stuff, and when the movie starts to play around with some of the events from Barris early life that have left him so damaged, it all seems so oddly right.
Rockwell really is the key to this movie: Barris isn�t the most immediately likeable of characters (what with him being either a lying bastard or a natural born killer) but yet Rockwell imbues him with an odd mix of charm and self-loathing that make him an oddly magnetic character. He�s kind of tragic, in a way, and I think it�s to the credit of everyone involved in the film that they managed to pull this one off, as it�s a the type of movie that could�ve easily ended up being a total mess.
It also makes for an interesting counterpart to that other Charlie Kaufman scripted movie that�s doing the rounds at the moment, Adaptation.
In a lot of ways, Confessions� feels like Adaptation being put into practise (and no, I�m not just referring to the fact that it�s a straight(er) adaptation of it�s source material than Adaptation was). There�s a lot of stuff going on here about using fiction to change elements of your life and sense of self, which seemed to me to be one of the key things that was going on in Adaptation.
And speaking of Adaptaion, I was very interested to read what Dan Emerson of Restate My Assumptions had written about the movie. He and I obviously had very different reactions to the film, and from what I�ve read of his blog we come from very different places when it comes to fiction in general. The amazing thing, to my mind, is that in hating Adaptation, he took from it so many of the same things that I did.
Check out his post about the movie, here, and then compare it some of my rambling thoughts here.
From Restate My Assumptions: �Messages I'm choosing to find, and to take as completely seriously and genuinely intended: well, the big one, is that of the crippling nature of insecurity on people's lives. Charlie Kaufman, as in this film, is seemingly a lot like me; inner critic gone wild, second-guessing everything he does, certain that it's wrong and that people will like him less for it. And, well, I too have a brother who's more or less oblivious to that sort of thing. The point, I guess, is to find somewhere in between; to be self-aware, maybe even to the extent that I am, but to know inside that you're good enough. The point of the opening speech, as I'm choosing to take it, is of Kaufman choosing to aspire to externally and culturally imposed desirable goals, instead of his personally desired goals. Another message I choose to find: adapt, I guess. Not in the sense of compromising personal integrity and principles for the sake of fitting in, or anything like that; but, well, advocation of, as Lisa Simpson put it above, "a long, arduous journey of personal and spiritual discovery". Another: love people. Another: truly care about things. That is to say: truly care about things. Not about the details, knowing things, etc; about letting it become a part of you, etc.�
It just kind of thrills me to see people who disliked the movie getting something out of it. I think this is probably why I liked Adaptation so much, as I feel that whether you loved it or hated it, it�ll at least have given you something to chew over.
More soon, honest!
Wednesday, March 12, 2003
Right, I�m really sorry about this, but I�m going to take a week of from updating this blog.
The fact is that I�ve been using my blog as an excuse to not write my essay a bit too frequently of late. My focus is all over the place, and so I�ll be taking a short break from here in the hope that I�ll be able to, y�know, actually get my essays handed in on time without having to resort to a sweaty, last-minute burst of effort.
But never fear, I�ll start updating again by next Thursday at the latest, and I�ll hopefully be talking about Richard Thompson, franchise enhancement and New X-Men, Chris Morris, George Herriman, The Filth and a whole load of other cool stuff in the near future.
Monday, March 10, 2003
Hot Iron in My Nose
I picked up Chris Morris� BAFTA winning short film My Wrongs #8245-8249 & 117 last week, and I found it to be an enjoyably fucked-up little movie.
It�s based on one of the monologues from Morris� Blue Jam radio show, about a guy who is housesitting for Imogen Edwards, and the various misadventures he stumbles into while walking her dog.
The tone of the film is somewhat more slapstick than I had expected- the description of events in the original monologue, while silly, also sounds eerier and more unsettling than this. This is partly because the sight of a grown man being dragged down the street by a dog whose lead is fixed around his neck is inherently dafter than any description can hope to do justice to, but I also think that this is part of a very conscious decision that has been made about the mood of this adaptation. While the radio version was accompanied by a slow, moody mix of ambient music, My Wrongs� makes use of some glitchy, scratchy electronic noises to add energy to some of the more madcap scenes. It�s a decision that works, I think, as the mix of verbal and visual comedy adds nicely to the sense of mental disintegration which My Wrongs� generates.
Warren Ellis has written an interesting account of the film here that should give you a pretty good idea of what to expect. As Ellis points out, the first scene in Imogen�s house is full of little details that set up the idea that our protagonist bored/confused to the point of loosing it: the fishbowl that he�s blacked out, the device he�s made to smoke several cigarettes at once. Because of this, and because of Paddy Considine�s admirably bamboozled performance, it all seems strangely natural when Rothko (the dog) starts to tell him that he�s his lawyer who will shortly be defending him for all the bad things he�s ever done in his life.
There are some darkly funny scenes in here (the flashback to the time the hamster started talking to him being my personal favourite) and overall My Wrongs� is an oddly entertaining look at a man who is loosing all sense of reality and responsibility.
I do however have one minor complaint. The CGI lip-synching for the dog looked a little sloppy in a couple of places. In some ways, this adds to the sense of derrangement inherant in the movie, but it's still jarring at times.
Watching My Wrongs... has set of something of a Morris career retrospective round my way, and as such I�ve been making my way through all the Morris stuff I own, from Greater London Radio to Blue Jam, and I�ll be posting some thoughts on this stuff later this week.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
I love Hellboy. It�s one of my favourite comics, and I have a hard time talking about it in a way that is remotely intelligible or structured. It just reduces me to a gibbering mess of complements�
Don�t get me wrong: there�s plenty to talk about here, I�m just not sure that I�ll be able to articulate myself very well.
I guess I�ll just have to plunge in and hope for the best!
As much as I love every aspect of this comic, it was Mike Mignola�s artwork that drew me to the book in the first place. The fluid, energetic simplicity of his line; the glorious inky shadows which shroud every page; his stunning sense of composition, pacing and design; the pared down, yet distinctive colour scheme which the book makes it�s own- it�s a glorious combination, all told. There�s a natural, joyous flow to these stories, and Mignola maintains an effortlessly moody atmosphere throughout.
Good as the art is, it wouldn�t be half as special if Mignola hadn�t integrated his abundant cartooning skills with the fascinating mix of horror, folklore, and old Jack Kirby comics that makes up the bulk of any Hellboy story. These tales of Lovecraftian monsters and evil Nazis are endlessly entertaining, and while there�s little in the way of dramatic tension in these stories, there is a great deal of engrossing pulp fun to be had within. It�s good stuff to relax with- a simple, engaging pleasure that takes some beating.
On top of all this, there�s Hellboy himself. He�s utterly adorable in every way- a big down-to-earth demon that gets to come out with an endless stream of silly quips in the face of danger� it doesn�t get any better than that.
I guess that Hellboy has been on my mind a lot recently because I�ve been thinking about (a) the fact that I�ll be reading The Conqueror Worm for the first time soon (YAY!) and (b) the upcoming Hellboy movie.
I�m oddly optimistic about the Hellboy movie at the moment. I don�t know why, given the uselessness of most comic book movies.
Perhaps it�s because I watched The Devil�s Backbone for the first time the other night. It�s one of Hellboy director Guillermo Del Toro�s movies, and I found it very enjoyable indeed. Previously, the only Del Toro movie I had seen was Blade 2, which was an enjoyably daft popcorn movie, but which wasn�t really made in a style that I thought would transfer well to a Hellboy project.
The Devil�s Backbone isn�t a horror movie. It�s basically a period drama with a supernatural element built in give some of the film�s themes a little more edge. It�s a quiet, character based story that uses the Spanish civil war as a very effective background for a story about unexploded bombs, blurred photographs and people who�ve gotten a little lost over time. It integrates the ghost story very well into the fabric of the plot, using it in simple, effective ways that add to the drama of the situation without overpowering it.
I�m not saying that the Devil�s Backbone has a stlye or tone to it that would be effective in a Hellboy movie, but I think there�s a certain quality to it that reassures me of Del Toro�s talent and potential as a filmmaker.
I could be wrong, but at the moment I�m choosing to be optimistic about this one.
I�m bloody well knackered tonight, and am thus grouchier than I have any right to be.
Stupid sleeping patterns + the start of some kind of annoying wee cold = one moany David.
Had an amusing time in work today, managing to squeeze a fairly expansive discussion about Adaptation in between serving customers. It really is a fun movie to talk about, and I look forward to watching it again.
A couple of my co-workers and I decided that the company we work for (Ottakars books, in case you were wondering) would be greatly improved if it's Herge obsessed owner were to rename the company �Tintin�s Quiff�.
Imagine the joyous phone calls� the sheer ease of customer service� the scope for fun inherent in this glorious name.
[Early morning in the bookstore. A couple of customers are browsing the two-for-tens, but otherwise all is calm. Suddenly, the phone rings. Once. Twice. Is answered�]
-Good morning, �Tintin�s Quiff�, how can I help you?
-Oohhh� You already have, m�dear, you already have� [phone goes dead]
-Another satisfied customer!
-Hooray! Bravo old chap! Keep up the good work and you�ll rise through the ranks of �the Quiff� faster than a truckload of greased chinaware!
-You heard me old boy� you heard me.
I picked up the bastard sized issue of the Comics Journal that came out this week, and I have to say that I�m impressed. I don�t but the Journal regularly because in all honesty I often find it a bit dull. Not snobby or elitist, but dull. Don�t get me wrong- it�s normally pretty well written, and there are always a couple of interesting articles in there, but I sometimes find it a bit dry. Not this issue. I�ve not read the whole thing yet (it really is pretty chunky), but there�s been a lot of good stuff so far.
There�s a stonking interview with Dan Clowes that is essentially just several pages of the man himself talking about all the elements of his craft. There�s also a great review of Eddie Campbell�s �After the Snooter� as part of a best comics of the year overview; Tom Spurgeon�s excellent essay on why Team Comics is still a bad idea; a smart little article on political/satirical cartooning in the wake of September 11th and much more.
Basically, it�s a good read, and one which I�ve not exhausted yet.
Anyways, I�m off to work on my essay some more.
Friday, March 07, 2003
Out of the Blue and Into the Sun
There�s a nice little Grant Morrison interview over here, in which the baldy Scottish scribe gets into some of the nitty-gritty of what his latest creator owned series The Filth is all about.
It�s not been the series that people expected it to be, but I think it�s a very entertaining and interesting series in it�s own right. It�s full of garish, oddball adventure, startlingly insane images and monotone urban melancholia, all shot through with a very British dose of black humour and wrapped up in some of the classiest, most distinctive covers in the business.
As I said, it�s a good interview, largely because Morrison gets into specific detail about The Filth in a way he had previously seemed to be resisting. I was particularly amused by this snippet:
�The real weird thing about this series is the amount of people who think they don't get it when they clearly do. What's that all about? I must admit it's quite baffling to me - I've read reviews saying things like 'Yes, it's Art but why should we care?' and 'why should I care about an old guy and his cat?' ...and my only answer is 'why should you care about a fictional character who dresses up like a bat or a man who grows to giant size and abuses his wife?' Why should anyone care about any story and yet people clearly do, because fiction helps to illuminate life. Personally, I believe that if you can feel sympathy for a ridiculous superhero and not for an ordinary, lonely man tending a sick animal then there's something desperately wrong with your emotions and your priorities.�
I�ve read a couple of interviews that have given an absolutely flawless synopsis of the series so far before claiming that it is completely incomprehensible, so I found this particular retort to be quite amusing. Additionally, I do have to say that I think that Greg Feely is one of Morrison�s better characters- more sympathetic and less cool than many of his more recent creations. He�s kind of like the evil, anti-matter Marvel Boy in a way� though I still can�t wait to read the next Marvel Boy series (What can I say? I'm a big fan of shiny pop-trash!).
I was particularly interested in seeing Morrison expand on the medical metaphor�s contained within the Filth, as it�s an angle I�m quite taken with� dunno why, but the idea of the Filth as medicine really amuses me.
�My theory was a simple one - I'd read about how antibiotics were actually contributing to the degradation of the human immune system and how some doctors had begun to inject house dust and dirt into children�s bloodstreams in an effort to strengthen nature's own defenses again. I liked that idea as a metaphor for the state of apathy, fear and violence - which has gripped America and Britain in particular - and used it to construct this story. The Filth is an attempt to 'inject' into my readers a healing concoction of vile ideas, hurtful emotions and unacceptable images.
The five specialist divisions or gestures which comprise the Hand organization - the Fist, the Finger, the Horns, the Frequency and the Palm - each represent a different type of white immune cell. The Palm are like Helper T cells, the Fist are Hunter/killer cells etc. Check out any book on the human immune system and you'll see how perfectly it all fits together.�
This last little snippet has me looking forward to the next issue muchly:
�The underlying story structure of the series is based on the human body's responses to an invading agent - the fever builds to a peak in issue #9, where everything is explained but in a heightened, sickening rush of barely-understandable images and words - most of the revelations in issue #9 are delivered in a thick Glaswegian dialect because I wanted them to seem deliberately febrile, bizarre and disconnected, like human thought processes at the peak of a viral assault...�
Glaswegian phonetics, viral surges of thought and distorted, feverish imagery: sounds pretty damned good to me!
Thursday, March 06, 2003
I Type Like A Blind Monkey
I just looked over my Adaptation post and realised that I had called the Orchid Thief "un-original". Of course, what I meant to say was that it was "un-conventional", but somewhere between my brain and the keyboard something very odd happened!
I've gotta learn to actually type properly sometime too... my lack of typing skill is just plain funny, ecpecially when I think about how much time I spend writing e-mails and blog entries.
Wednesday, March 05, 2003
Coordinates For Launch
[the *spoilers* they are a coming]
One of the brilliant things about Adaptation is that�as others have commented�trying to write about the movie can lead to a series of false starts, conflicted intentions and serious headaches that are faintly reminiscent of the problems which the film�s writer and central character Charlie Kaufman (as played by Nicolas Cage) has to deal with during the course of the movie.
Well, when I say writer, I mean co-writer, as the script is also credited to his easy-going twin brother Donald Kaufman, who also appears in the film (and is also played by Cage). But yet Donald doesn�t exist in the �real world��
Adaptation is a movie written by Charlie Kaufman about the process of adapting Susan Orlean�s the Orchid Thief, a non-fiction book about orchid poacher John Laroche, into a movie. It�s also (in it�s own skewed way) an adaptation of the novel and an attempt to capture some of the themes and moods of the book on film. Sometimes the movie focuses on Charlie�s struggle to overcome his writer�s block and sometimes it focuses on Susan Orlean (Meryl Streep) as she becomes acquainted with Laroche (Chris Cooper) while writing the articles that would later be fleshed out into the book Kaufman is adapting.
While this mix of fact and fiction may all sound far too indulgent and self-referential for it�s own good, let me assure you that it does work somehow.
Kaufman�s script is funny, imaginative and human and manages to be both very obvious and the source of an almost infinite amount of potential thought. All of the intellectual ins and outs of the movie are clearly signposted, but yet the film allows many different interpretations and trains of thought to germinate.
The cast are uniformly brilliant throughout, with Nicolas Cage putting in a surprisingly good performance as the brothers Kaufman. He gives Charlie just the right amount of obsessive self-doubt and Donald the proper dose of goofy swagger without ever resorting to the cheesy overacting that is normally a feature of his movies.
Watching Charlie wrestle with the Orchid Thief--with wanting to translate this most un-conventional book into a mainstream movie while maintaining the thrill and beauty of the original work--and with his own self-conscious, nervous personality is fascinating, magnetic even. For all that this is a film that investigates the roles of writing and fiction, I think it is primarily a remarkable examination of desire, passion, failure, insecurity and change. In fact, I think I�d go as far as to say that Adaptation is probably the single best movie I�ve ever seen about the beauty and danger of obsession.
Whle Adaptation is obviously anything but a straight translation of the Orchid Thief, the source text seems to inform the movie on every level. Charlie�s struggle with the Orchid Thief, the reverent fervour with which he tries to express all that he finds transcendent within the book mirrors Orlean�s quest to find the drive and enthusiasm she sees in the quixotic Laroche. This, combined with the passages from the text which seep into the movie�s many voice-overs, ensures that the spirit of the Orchid Thief is ever-present in Adaptation, or at least, it appears to be to me. Admittedly, I�m not best placed to judge this as I haven�t read it yet, but comments by those who have experienced both the prose and the movie seem to indicate that it is oddly faithful to the source material.
Many people have dismissed the film�s third act as nothing more than an ironic critique of Hollywood filmmaking, and while this is certainly part of what is going on here, I think that there is a lot more to it than that.
Throughout Adaptation there is a pitched battle between the traditional Hollywood movie and a more organic, original type of film. This is represented on-screen both in the way in which Charlie struggles with his own artistic ambition, and In his reaction to the clich�d thriller script which his brother writes during the course of the movie. While Charlie is constantly critical of the hackneyed nature of Donald�s script, and his reverence for Robert McKee�s screenwriting advice, he is still clearly shaken when he attends one of McKee�s seminars and is lambasted for asking about how to make a realistic movie where nothing happens. This scene really hammers home for me the fact that the third act is also an oddly sincere effort to capture some of the thrill that Charlie felt while reading the Orchid Thief- I think that the fact that McKee points out that life does have all the contrivance and overblown drama of fiction is utterly key to this section of the movie, and I think that this is truly the only way that Adaptation could have ended satisfyingly. There�s a sense of compromise here, but yet there�s also a sense of freedom, of some kind closure. It may be the kind of clich�d Hollywood ending that features everything that Charlie has complained about, but it also provides him with a way to break free of his obsession; to move on, to adapt, to grow.
To me (and believe me, I�m aware that this is only one interpretation of the movie) it is important to realise that both Charlie and Donald are fictional constructs, and that they are both possibly representative of elements of the �real� Charlie Kaufman. From this perspective it seems to me that Adaptation is, on one level, an attempt by the writer to reconcile these two elements of his personality and screenwriting instincts.
I don�t know about anyone else, but I can certainly relate to both brothers very directly. I�m sad, lonely, paralysed by self-doubt, painfully shy, and terrible at interacting with people. As a writer (if I can even call myself that, given my lack of any substantial output) I am deeply, profoundly worried about the artistic merit of everything I write. At the same time I�m really happy, I�ve got a wonderfull girlfriend, I can be great company, I breeze through life un-fussed, I�m loud and quite possibly irritatingly goofy. I adore pure, trashy entertainment, and love to write daft stories full of whatever crazy shit I can drag out of my brain. With this in mind, I think the ending can be read not only as a synthesis of these two writing styles, but as an integration of some elements of the Donald character into the Charlie character. For me, this is the reason that Donald has to die during this section of the film- he�s given Charlie his big �life lesson� and his approach to movies has been both mocked and given a chance to shine.
As I said, this is only one interpretation of the movie. The best thing about Adaptation for me is that it does seem to go back and forth on itself, exploring different perspectives rather than trying to present you with one definitive point of view. In this way, Adaptation reminds me of stuff like the Invisibles and some of the poetry of Blake and Yeats. It feels like there are two dialogues going on here: one within the movie itself and another and with the audience.
As the filmmakers themselves say during this Village Voice interview:
Kaufman: We were trying to create a conversation. And maybe that's what makes it, as you say, "critic-proof." If it is, we were exploring different things. So the movie is more of a conversation with the audience, and hopefully people will participate as individuals.
Jonze: Yeah, you guys have articles to write, and, uh, we don't want to work against that. We encourage people to have reactions and think and talk and write about that. The norm now where there's so much "entertainment journalism" is everything's talked about to the nth degree by the people who make it, and there's like this constant noise effect where, I guess, you know, not that that's our motivation, but in terms of, uh . . . you know, I could . . . if . . . We just don't want to present this movie in that context.
I think this is the key to what makes Adaptation such a marvellous film. It�s something everyone will take something different from, and I think that in this case, people who don�t like the movie are oddly essential to the whole experience of the film. I can understand, and am fascinated by, the things that people found unsatisfying about the movie, and because of this I love talking to people who didn�t like it just as much as I like talking to people who did.
I could go on, but I�m scared that I�m trying to hog the conversation a bit much� over to you�
Monday, March 03, 2003
What, a Moral?
I�ve been feeling really disconnected from the music world recently, partly because I�ve not been going to many concerts recently, and partly because I�ve not had any overriding new musical obsession for a while.
Don�t get me wrong; I�m not about to come out with some crap about how music is terrible at the moment. I never get it when people say that, as I always seem to find enough great stuff to amuse myself without really looking that hard. There�s just not been anything that�s totally commandeered my attention in a while. Skimming through my blog entries, it definitely shows in what I�ve been writing. When I think about how much music I�ve been listening to, and how little I�ve been writing about it, something just seems odd to me, and I think that the truth is that music has taken on a more casual role in my life recently.
The last time I developed a massive musical crush was probably when I discovered all those brilliant bootleg pop remixes that you can find all over the internet. The concept sounded gimmicky but there was (and still is) so much great stuff coming out of this aesthetic that I could barely believe it. I fell in love with this stuff for the same reasons everyone else did�the democratic genre smashing, the DIY loveliness of the whole idea and the sheer pop-genius of some of the results�but I can�t think of anything that has really hijacked my brain since then.
There have been a few songs that have stayed with me for a while, and some of my old obsessions still rear their heads from time to time, but I�ve been lacking any new band or artist to become ridiculously worked up over. Maybe I�m just getting old, or maybe it�s just that my interest in comic books is still developing and is taking up an obscene amount of my energy� heh- somehow, the second option sounds a lot more likely, dontcha think? Feeling old is something best left for a time when I�m a little bit older than I am at the moment, I�m sure you�ll agree (what, with me being twenty and all).
The point of all this is that I�m kind of starting to explore one of my dad�s musical obsessions at the moment, in that I�m becoming increasingly interested in the music of folk-rock guitarist Richard Thompson, one of my dad�s favourite musicians. It�s kinda odd, because Richard Thompson�s music has been an ever-present part of my life due to my dad�s obsessive fandom, but yet my actual knowledge of his output is vague and patchy at best. I guess I have an oddly second-hand appreciation of his massive body of work. Nevertheless, I�m feeling increasingly drawn to his music, for whatever reason.
There�s a certain bleak, witty edge to his songwriting that I�ve always greatly admired, and from my aforementioned patchy experience with his work, I think I�ll be checking out Shoot Out the Lights (the last record he made with his then wife Linda) and Mock Tudor first, as those are the albums have left the greatest impression on me over the years. The former album was written and recorded just before the two of them broke up, and is the dark, graceful sound of a relationship mid-disintegration, while the later seems to me to be one of the purest (and most deliberate) distillations of Thompson�s none-more-Englishness. There�s a very direct interaction with a sort of mythic England in some of Thompson�s songs, and it�s something that works very well within his particular musical idiom.
[Amusingly random factoid: as I was typing up this blog entry, my Dad received a phone call which was turned out to be a live Richard Thompson song as broadcast (with surprising clarity) from one of his friend�s mobile phones]
And today�s most random line goes to my friend Chris� mum, who came out with this little oddity earlier in the day:
�The female guppies look pregnant, but then again, guppies are guppies��
Ok, there�s a context for this line, and it�s not really that weird, but I find myself inexplicably amused by this quote in some deeply silly and improbable way.
Nothing wrong with being easily amused, I think�
Speaking of which: I hope you were all reading yer comics naked (and possibly in public) today. If not then shame on you...
Anyway, all that aside I think that the next couple of days of this blog will probably see me write some stuff about Richard Thompson (in more detail than above) ,Chris Morris (My Wrongs and Brass Eye in particular), Hellboy, George Herriman, Adaptation (which I�m hoping to see in the next couple of days), and whatever other random stuff ends up bothering me as the week goes on.
Saturday, March 01, 2003
�Left Foot, Right Foot, Left Foot, Right Foot, Left Foot, Right Foot��
With Flat Earth proposing International Read A Comic Book Naked Day as an alternative to Savant's International Read A Comic Book In Public Day for those who live in cold climates, may I be the first to suggest a synthesis of the two (strictly for people who live in areas that are at least moderately warm at this time of year).
How about making Monday, March 3rd the first ever International Read A Comic Book Naked In Public Day?
Second thoughts, perhaps the sight of buck naked comic book fans reading ACME Novelty Library or V for Vendetta on the bus wouldn�t be the best way to promote comics internationally� oh well!
There�s a new Wake Up Screaming online now. This week's gag is amusingly grounded in reality, and I�m very impressed with the new lettering Scott is using. Very smooth.
Up From Genre City is �The weblog of the creator of the vaguely acclaimed webcomic Genre City.� For those of you who haven�t checked it out yet, Genre City is a very interesting webcomic that you can enjoy here. It�s updated twice a week, and is very ambitious in terms of both panel layout and story- you'll be into it, trust me.
So far, Benjamin�s blog has hosted some interesting thoughts on the current Daredevil ongoing series, and Milligan/Allred�s X-Statix. I�m particularly amused by his attention to comic book lettering, as it�s not something hat I think about as often as I should (my above comment about Wake Up screaming excepted).
As if this wasn�t enough, Benjamin Birdie has also went multimedia this week, with a trailer for The Chop, �A story about Trust, Friendship and Hair� now inhabiting his site. Craziness!
Hey Kids, Comics! is a Ninth Art article about (you guessed it) what kids want from comics.
�In an age where every second comic book-related newspaper headline reads 'comics aren't just for kids anymore', we have to face up to the sad fact that they're rarely for kids at all. This is partly because of the marketing hangover from the early '90s that forced crossover stories into every title in a company line and forced the kids who bought them out of the comic stores altogether, and partly because of the still-prevalent worship of continuity that requires an encyclopaedic knowledge of 40 years of storylines - and in Marvel's case, an encyclopaedia.
So what's the problem? Where did all the kids go? How come children enter comic shops, stock up on their YU-GI-OH and leave again? What, in short, do kids want from their comics? Well, it's not good sitting around waiting for the industry to decide what kids want; it's better to go directly to the only person who can genuinely tell us - a kid.
Jacqueline is twelve years old. Her record collection includes both Jimmy Eat World and Atomic Kitten, and her comic reading tastes are equally varied. The first thing we all want to know, of course, whether outside observers or industry moguls, is the answer to the elusive question, "What makes kids want to pick up a comic?"
The article is a good one, and is well worth a look for anyone who�s interested in this (pretty important) question.
Comic Book Galaxy head-honcho Alan David Doane has his own weblog here. ADD writes very passionately about comics, and updates his weblog regularly.
While we�re talking about comic book related links, I�ve just added a link to Bug Powder to the sidebar. It�s a marvellous site dedicated to the British small press comics scene, and is a good place to find both resources for comic creation and reviews of small press comics.